October 06, 2015 10:15 UTC

Science & Technology

How Overfishing Threatens Asia's Wild Fish Stocks

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Bluefin tuna being cut up on board a Japanese fishing vesselBluefin tuna being cut up on board a Japanese fishing vessel
Bluefin tuna being cut up on board a Japanese fishing vessel
Bluefin tuna being cut up on board a Japanese fishing vessel


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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
The pressure to feed Asia's growing population has led to dangerous levels of overfishing near Pacific coastlines.
An example can be found in Sindangan, a fishing town in the southern Philippines. Wild catches are falling while prices are rising.
This fisherman says the area's once healthy fish stocks are in danger because of an increase in the number of fishing boats.
Across the South China Sea, fish catches near shore have dropped since the nineteen eighties. That drop has pushed fishermen to go offshore with bigger boats.
Benjamin Francisco is an official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He says some of the methods they use to increase their catches are destructive.
"The use of fine mesh net, the use of dynamite explosives for fishing, and other fishing gear, that catches juveniles or those that harvest maturing spawning stocks."
Fishing methods like these harm the ability of some species to reproduce. The fish warden in Sindangan, Julie Buot, says most of the local fishermen use fine mesh nets. Such nets have been banned for years because they catch very young fish.
To deal with problems like this, Benjamin Francisco has been promoting the idea of licensing systems. The aim is to limit the number of boats on the water.
Asia has the world's largest fishing fleets. They represent nearly three million of the world's four million fishing vessels. And most estimates show that the numbers are increasing.
In Hong Kong, there are increased efforts to regulate fleets and to ban trawling for fish near shore. More than two hundred million dollars is being spent in an effort to increase catches by small fishing operations. So Ping-man of the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is hopeful about the efforts. He expects catch values to increase.
But Hong Kong's measures are costly. Benjamin Francisco says a lot of governments in Asia are not in a position to copy them. 
"The issues are deeply rooted in poverty, the inability of local government to respond immediately, insufficiency of funds."
In Sindangan, Wilfredo Ortega feeds a family of nine children from small-scale fishing. On a recent day, he caught only half a dollar's worth of fish. He had to return to shore early because of monsoon winds.
"In these months, it's quite tight," he says, talking about the difficulty of saving money. "We can only save during the months of November, December, January. We can save by catching young sardines."
The young sardines may feed Mr. Ortega's family for now. But the catches today mean fewer mature fish tomorrow. And they mean an even riskier future for those who depend on fishing when no other work is available.
And that's the Agriculture Report in Special English. I'm Christopher Cruise.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jean
10/16/2012 10:55 PM
The same situations happen all around the world. We use extreme methods to make a profit no matter how we will be hurt in the future or maybe just tomorrow.

by: Erkhsoyorkhuun from: In India
10/14/2012 8:25 AM
The overfishing is one of the serious problems in the world nowadays. instead of catching them, we shoud reduce eat them. Apart from that, you can make a difference if you really want to do something to protect the environment

by: Michèle from: michele.soubiran@orange.f
10/12/2012 9:56 AM
Overfishing is a global environmental disaster.Whith the forecast world populaton levels, the problem is difficult to solve.
The text describes a few interesting mistigation measures of overfishing in Asia.
European Union has a fishing quota system, so fishermen can only take a certain amount of fish.
The possibility of using and developing fish farming is maybe a answer to the problem.

by: Elenir Maria Scardueli from: Brasília-Brazil
10/10/2012 9:30 PM
Worrying. Tomorrow it´s not going to cry for the fish that couldn´t be born because the cubs were caught before of certain time. There is going to have much more famished people..

Of that way, in future, unfortunately is going to have much more famished people..

by: olimar oliveira from: Caetite, bahia /Brasil
10/10/2012 6:44 PM
really, the catches of young fish prejudice the future the families. the government have to invest more money to avoid predatory fish.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
10/09/2012 8:15 AM
According to the FAO report, fish stocks threat occurs not only in the Asian shore but increases also in the high seas. It's because regulation of illegal fishing is more difficult in open seas. Anyway, it leaves nothing to us if we are shortsighted and have caught out all fishery resources. What should we do for maintainig sustainable fishing? To release juveniles, to restrict fishing seasons and amount of catches, and to raising spawn and so on seem needed. But I'm afraid to say is one thing, to do is another.

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